To get an idea of just how hard the Ruskies have been hit by the global economic slump, look at recent market statistics on the country's most vital commodity. Not oil. Vodka. Newly impoverished Russians can no longer afford their national spirit. Sales are plummeting and stockpiles are soaring. The government says that store shelves are stocked with six times as much unsold vodka as last year at this time.
"People are having to save money, including on drinks, and this is connected to the impact of the financial crisis on people's disposable incomes," Pavel Shapkin, president of the National Alcohol Association, told Reuters. It's enough to drive Russians to drink. And it has. Shapkin said that 1,458 people died of alcohol poisoning in September, most of them after drinking homemade or bootleg spirits that are cheaper than store-bought vodka. It was the first time that alcohol poisonings grew in Russia since 2006.
That prompted vodkamakers to call for an American-style solution: a government bailout."At times like this, any grandmother can collect some old bottles, fill them with whatever she wants, and sell them to the alcoholics that are trying to save some money," Shapkin said. "The government has to do something for these people trying to afford the most basic essentials in life."
This is one case where the Russians are luckier than us because our government is too busy helping out Banks and Cars to be looking out for Joe Alcoholic. But heck it's easy enough to make your own hooch. Be Still My Liver.